Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Evergreen Pyramid of the Glade Lord

I had an idea for a dungeon on my way to work this morning: it's a Giza-style pyramid, but it's made of trees. Evergreen trees, particularly. This is how it works.

It all started 2500 years ago, with the planting of The Golden Pine - a gift from a wood elf lord to his consorts, who he claimed would never have such beauty as when they were with him (he was an asshole). The Golden Pine had needles of gold, and all around it sprouted greater trees, fit for monuments. Every 250 years the Golden Pine and its offspring would grow 50ft and seed the area directly around them, producing offspring which grew at a similar pace.

Over 2500 years, this means ten generations of trees had grown. Ten levels of a pyramid made from this forest. Every 250 years another level is grown up, and the pyramid expands outwards in radius. Each layer is broader than the last. (Shit, this makes a cone, not a pyramid. WHATEVER.)

But over two millennia, the power of the wood elves faded. Their empire has crumbled, and their noble lineages of Reincarnates have become lost. Now savage creatures trespass on the pyramid.

This puts the pyramid at around 500ft high, just a bit taller than the Great Pyramid.
The Golden Pine, shining like a beacon in the Sun, can still be seen from afar.

  • Bark Mummies - the old bodies of now-reincarnated wood elves looking for souls to fill their empty vessels. They're the old wood elf lord's lovers. Rotted hollow on the inside, bark on the outside.
  • Giant squirrels.
  • A bounty of gold to be plucked from the Golden Pine. Maybe it also has medicinal properties.
  • A huge freakin' bird that nests near the top, complete with chicks it needs to feed. It likes the lumberjacks the most. NO, wait, better: TWO huge freakin' birds. A mated pair. They're cowards and won't pick a fight with anything that can fight back if they're looking for food, but if you get near their nest then they'll fuck you right up! One rests while the other hunts.
  • Wood elf patrols of the fallen empire, spread thin but zealous in devotion to kill and capture trespassers. Few in number but skilled.
  • Seasonal changes for the dungeon.
  • The ground under the pyramid is covered in highly acidic pine needles and traps. Moving along the bottom is certain death - one must navigate through the layers of the trees.
  • Mercenary grave-robber lumberjacks, who've cut away some of the pyramid to reveal a cross section for easy access. They clear the pine acid but are constantly harried by the giant birds. They've been hired to get at the Golden Pine, and harvest its needles so some emperor can make tea from them.
  • Pine dryads, perhaps?
  • Oozing sap oozes, of course.
  • Something with pine cones. Do they explode? Do they turn into little pine cone men? Will eating one make you momentarily immune to the trees' defenses? Are they simply valuable because they'll grow more of these evergrowing trees? Maybe different pine cones do different things. All of the above.
  • Sexy tree sex? (This is not as sexy as it sounds.) It is a tomb for multiple lovers, after all.
  • Evil wilt creature thing, eating the pyramid tree by tree?
  • Wood elf history, genealogies, reincarnation records, carved or grown into inner trees.
  • Lots of spiky pit traps. Pit traps which drop you down several floors like snakes and ladders.
  • Vertical dungeon shenanigans. Tons of pits and trees to climb up/down.
  • Fledgling god of the wood growing within the core. It is not a nice god. Maybe it's the reincarnating lord of the wood? Man, if he founds out what somebody's doing to his pyramid he will be PISSED.
  • Tree-sarcophagi, curses, false chambers, treasures of the wood elves, all that jazz.
  • Tom, the surly Lumberjack, is a reincarnated elven princess and consort of the wood elf lord. He still has memories of his previous reincarnations, and over time he's realized just how awful and horrible the lord guy was. He finds this entire pyramid a disgusting monument to their awful relationship, and he wants to find his Bark Mummy and destroy it. Then he wants to burn or cut the whole pyramid down.
  • There are still entities within the pyramid that recognize the above elven princesses, and will call them by such. Maybe an old treant or a nut golem or something.
  • Wait, y'know what's better? If all of the ex-consorts are there, trying to destroy their own Bark Mummies. They're in various reincarnated forms: a surly lumberjack, a butterfly, a young doe, a raven, a troll. They'll grant you boons if you can help them destroy their gross trophy-mummies.
  • Speaking of trophies: gross hunting trophies. Massive antlers decorated with impaled skeletons, mummified human faces kept in pine acid water, leather.
  • Hmmm.... Treants. They can't be just normal treants. Maybe... self-conflagrationing treants? They set themselves on fire and explode/hug, so they can spread their seeds all over. Fresh bodies make good fertilizer. Evergrowing treants? There's like one or two of 'em, and they're moving column-rooms in the pyramid. Rotting treants? They've not native to the pyramid, so the bugs eat them.
  • Spiders.
  • Immortal Acid Weavils. They eat the pine needles, and it makes them immortal. They just keep growing and growing until they're huge and smart.
  • What Happens When You Cut Open This Tree Table
I was thinking about this game in particular: Photosynthesis.
It's an excellent game. Very challenging!
The Crooked Forest - Source


  1. Ha. I was going to mention the game Photosynthesis, and then I scrolled down. Great game.

    Also, there are a FINITE number of trees in the outermost layer. Connect their trunks to form a MANY SIDED POLYGON. The Glade Lord's tomb is a SACRED PYRAMID. Don't let the POPE trick you with CONEIST LIES!

    1. It's really rare to find a board game like Photosynthesis that makes you think in ways you haven't, and has no random factors. Playing it with my family was like a neverending stream of the calculating meme.

  2. FIRST OFF, a friend pointed me to this place and I've been loving what I read.


    This concept in particular gives me Life. Here are the things that came to mind as I read this:

    YES to oozing sap oozes. Consider also Amber. Resin. Amber slimes. Resin slimes. Amber... golems? Elementals? Sap. All the sap. Sticky sap traps. "Gelatinous" amber cubes, except since they're plant based they're not cubes they're tetrakaidecahedrons. Just plant fluids things. Amber traps containing ancient horrors-- giant mosquitos, or undead menaces. Things that really make you want to crack that outer layer of amber just a leetle bit.

    Why settle for giant spiders when you can have giant colony spiders? And swarming moths that don't actually attack but do obscure vision and fill your lungs w/ dusty wing scales. Sap-sucking bugs and giant assassin bugs that suck the juices out of them in turn... or, you know, players. At night. With wings that make a distinct sound. Assassin bugs that imitate leaves and bark really well. Caterpillars in vast silk colony webs that form impasses and barriers in the trees. The caterpillars don't eat you, but they do encase you overnight in silk, which might be the only way to survive some other hazard in the canopy. I've built a giant hornet's nest that operates on a tiered swarm and squad based hive but I'm still formatting it to post online; I'll share a link when I do.

    Weather. In the canopy, weather is all. (so I may or may not have spent a few too many years of my life studying plant ecology, don't sue me, I'm poor) Fog, rain, exposure to extreme sun and wind, increased vulnerability to lightning strikes and hail damage-- all of these are flavor, obstacle, and plot twist options. Even without getting horrifically REAL LIFE and SURVIVALISMO EXTREMICA, a sudden rainstorm followed by a cold wind could be a nice tool in the DM's hands.

    Fungi and epiphytes. I mostly say these two because I recently rigged a friend's Warlock's greenhouse with some entertaining evil funguses and epiphytes (the orchids spit acid, but don't worry, only at your eyes. So if you don't have eyes, you're fine.) Great pendulous pitcher plants hanging from massive knotted vines and stems, the enzymes and acids in the dark water of their bulbs faintly hissing as it dissolves birds, insects, elves, and your players.

    Spores are important here. Spores in clouds, spores in spattering fluids shot from parasitically implanted insects, spores in your players' lungs and under their fingernails and on their skin in patches. Spores with hallucinogenic effects, and spores that are flammable. Speaking of,

    Pollen. Not only are massive airborne clouds of pollen flammable and allergenic, they are also flammable and allergenic. I mean think about how much pollen one of these pines could release in a day. Actually don't think about that, it's nasty.

    Wait go back to spore-infected insects again. Pillars of massive leaf-cutter ants crawling up from the undergrowth, searching for a high place from which to release their brain spores... and a source of food to fuel the growth of the spore pod (player characters. I'm talking about player characters.)

    So yeah this is my jam and I love it but I must stop typing if I want to make it to the gym at a reasonable hour. I'll come back and post again when I've got the evil greenhouse and the hornets online.